Wednesday, September 19, 2012

KB at Santa Cruz County Fair

KB grown flowers at Santa Cruz County Fair

At Kitayama Brothers we try to maintain a strong profile in our local community. This week we donated flowers through the R.O.P program in one of our local High Schools to be used in demonstrations of the work they do with budding designers at the Santa Cruz County Fair. We also had our own beautiful exhibit at the fair (thank you Carol K.)

~ Tony Scalisi

KB grown flowers at Santa Cruz County Fair

Friday, September 14, 2012

KB Fall Novelties in Season!

mini pumpkin trees, yellow yarrow, billy balls (craspedia) and flame mini callas
Forget your pumpkin lattes and your eggnog shakes. We are looking at real Fall seasonal products here at Kitayama Brothers. We have Japanese lanterns, mini pumpkin trees, yellow yarrow, billy balls (craspedia) flame mini callas, and 3 different types of cut peppers. The novelties are just starting to roll in. I love this time of year.
~ Tony Scalisi
Japanese lanterns
3 different types of cut peppers

KB showing at SAF Convention

Jimmy Zheng and Dave Kitayama

Jimmy Zheng and Dave Kitayama preparing some of the OUTSTANDING VARIETIES Dave will be showing at this years SAF Convention in Florida. We will be well represented with lilies, mini callas, gerberas, and lisianthus. Which will be the BLUE RIBBON winner this year?

KB's Lisianthus & Mini Callas

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet Rich Dallimonti & Bella

Rich Dallimonti & Bella
Are these the dog days of summer or is the market just going to the dogs? Actually, meet Rich Dallimonti and his faithful companion Bella. Rich is nearing 30 years of sales at Kitayama Brothers. I don’t know if anyone really knows the total $$ amount or the stem count Rich has sold since the early 1980’s but his numbers would match anyone else’s in the US floral industry. We are lucky to have Rich and Bella on our team. Thank you Rich for 30 years of dedication.
~ Tony Scalisi

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Greg Lum & KB in Signature Weddings

Greg Lum, the Kitayama Cup winner (open division) 2 years in a row - 2011 & 2012 published in Signature Weddings Asia Magazine - The FASHION Issue 07/12 (starts on page 242)! Way to go Greg and thank you very much for using California grown KB products including our gorgeous Callas!

Greg supplied us with some details of this lovely event: "The concept for the wedding was to create an Asian inspired wedding using both Asian and European design styles. Many of the flowers used were grown in California. Such products as the deep purple calla lilies and purple lisanthus grown by Kitayama Brothers in Watsonville. Phalaenopsis orchids, Dahlias and Aeonium succulents were among the many other flowers grown in California."

Greg Lum's designs featured in Signature Weddings
He continued with more details about the designs he created for the event: "The bridal bouquet was a symmetric, decorative design with the stems arranged in a parallel fashion adorned by a jeweled pin, that was chosen by the bride herself. The ceremony flowers consisted of long, arching sprays of white Phalaenospsis orchids arranged inside of a construction armature of white mistusmata branches atop a tall clear glass vase."

"The cocktail table centerpieces were designed in different sized black square ceramic containers with maroon Dahilias, magenta Phalaenopsis orchids and small spheres covered in dried purple seeds."

"The centerpieces for the dinner were 5ft tall and consisted of fresh manzanita branches (The orange man - Gerry Gregg) decorated with spheres of purple lisanthus blooms; purple calla lilies (Kitayama Brothers). Sprays of dozens of magenta Dendrobium orchids also decorated the branches at varying heights."

Congratulations to the bride & groom, and Greg, for creating this beautiful wedding.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Produce News features Robert K & Open House

Robert Kitayama. Photo
The Produce News
The 7/2/12  issue of the on-line magazine The Produce News featured a guest column by Robert Kitayama (California flower growing Industry: seeing the glass as half-full), an article about the Kitayama Brothers open house and a mention in an article about California Growers on pages 76, 77 & 78.

This magazine uses the 3DIssue platform, and might not work on iPhone and iPad.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

UC Davis Students Visit KB Farms

At KB Farms it seems there is always something  going on. Here are 2 busloads of post-harvest Ag students from UC Davis spending a beautiful summer’s day touring our facilities and learning what growing and selling flowers is really like.

~ Tony Scalisi


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kitayama Cup Floral Competition Video

Kitayama Cup Floral Competition Winners!

The annual Kitayama Cup floral design competition was held June 16th during the KB Open House event.  This year there were two divisions, Open (professional with over 5 years of industry experience) and a Level 1 division for floral design students and young professionals.  Below are a list of the winners and participants.  To see a photo gallery of arrangements and photos of the entire event, see our web site at Congrats to everyone, and thanks for your beautiful work!
Open Division winner Greg Lum with his arrangement. Photo by Tony Scalisi

OPEN DIVISION       Affiliation
Greg Lum                   AIFD                       1st Place
Joseph Salingao          7 Victoria St Flr        2rd Place
Nixon Tran                 Michael Daigain         3nd Place
Gerry Gregg               AIFD
Emil Yanos                 AIFD
John Bagnall               KB
Fernando Musulem     Berkeley Bowl

Imelda Iraeta            City College of SF        1st Place
Oxana Sanukova      City College of SF        2rd Place
Shinta Arifin             City College of SF        3nd Place
Virginia Horta            Petals Florist               People's Choice
Kim Munson             City College of SF
Jae Eun Yun             City College of SF
Ariel Ermatinger        City College of SF

Arrangement by Virginia Horta, Winner of the People's Choice Award. Photo by Kim Munson.
Level 1 Division winner Imelda Iraeta with Robert Kitayama. Photo by Tony Scalisi.
Imelda Iraeta's prize winning arrangement. Photo by Kim Munson.

Friday, June 22, 2012

On June 2nd at the Sunset Magazine "Celebration" open house in Menlo Park, CA, Debi Lily the entertainment and decorating specialist for Safeway gave some fun tips for outdoor decor and entertaining.  She emphasized that flowers can be inexpensive and easy to use in creating a fun event.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beautiful Dahlias!

We have just received our first allotment of Dahlias for 2012. We have a super grower whose dahlias have vibrant colors and very thick stems. These must be seen and should be in every shop.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Robert Kitayama - Greenhouse Grower Interview

Robert Kitayama: Big-Picture Perspective

What's going on at Kitayama Brothers, number 54 on the Top 100 Growers list.

Cut flower grower Kitayama Brothers topped our Top 100 Growers List for six straight years from 1990 to 1996, reaching 5.1 million square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse space across six locations during its peak in the mid-’90s.

Kitayama Brothers is still a Top 100 Grower in 2012, holdingg the 54th position with 1.3 million square feet. But because B and H Flowers recently moved out of a Kitayama-owned glass greenhouse facility, Kitayama Brothers expanded into the 189,000-square-foot range. Kitayama planned to add another 125,000 square feet of greenhouse space for cut flowers last month, as well, and it may expand by another 150,000 square feet this fall.

Kitayama may never return to the 5 million-square-foot mark, but its president, Robert Kitayama, is excited about new opportunities the business is creating for itself in the cut flower market. GG recently caught up with Kitayama to discuss these opportunities and reflect on the glory days of California cut flower production.

GG: Take us back to the days when Kitayama Brothers was the largest greenhouse grower in the United States. What factors led to the slide of cut flower growers like Kitayama, and how did the business manage to sustain itself for many of those years?

RK: For a lot of years we wondered if we were going to be able to sustain the business. The shareholders, wise or otherwise, were committed to the flower business. One thing we didn’t do at that time was put a whole bunch of money back into the business, but we did make huge transitions because we used to be 100 percent cut roses.

When Kitayama Brothers started more than 60 years ago, we were carnation growers. When South American carnations came onto the scene, we migrated into cut roses. We did the same thing when South American roses came onto the scene. Our last transitions happened in the mid-1990s, transitioning from a ground rose to a hydroponic rose. Then we diversified into more crops like lilies, gerberas and snapdragons. In the ‘90s, a combination of getting by with new flowers and leasing sustained us when probably more than 50 percent of the cut flower growers in Northern California closed.

GG: What adjustments are Kitayama Brothers making these days to reposition its cut flower business for success?

RK: In the last few years, our business needed help in sales and marketing. We purchased a brokerage company, G.E. Moore Flower Company, because they had expertise selling outside product. In 2009, sales went down as a result of the recession. At that time, Ginger and Winston [Moore] wanted to sell their company and move on. They gave their staff and sales people an opportunity to work with Kitayama, and immediately we had a very good year in 2010.

I came in less than two years ago, and the thing I really wanted to work on was reinvesting in our facilities. Most of our competition had not reinvested in their facilities, and we decided this was an opportunity for us. Additionally, in August, B and H Flowers declared bankruptcy. So we moved back into growing in the greenhouses we were leasing at that time. Since then, I’ve hired a new person to start a mass market division. We sell to a lot of bouquet makers and small stores. But with this added production, I think we can go after some of the grocery store chains. I’m optimistic we can be as profitable as we were in those days – there were times we sold a lot of flowers, and I’m not sure how we took a lot to the bank.

See the original post on the Greenhouse Grower blog.

Friday, May 25, 2012

KB supports Amgen Cycling Race

Happy winners with bouquets. See
race-live/photos.html for more event photos.
Kitayama Brothers supports several local community events.  A special event this year was the second stage of the Amgen Tour which ended at Cabrillo College in Aptos.  Kitayama Brothers sponsored the bouquets this year and were proud to be part of this special event. Amgen Tour of California Cycling Race came to Santa Cruz County, on Monday May 14, 2012.  Stage 2 Started in San Francisco and ended at the Cabrillo College campus in Aptos, about 10 miles from our greenhouse.  Last year 18 of the finest race teams in the world came to California to compete in the 8 Stages that cover northern and southern California.

We live and work in Santa Cruz County and it’s a wonderful place to live, a great place to grow flowers, and it’s a great place to bike.  Our good weather, beautiful scenery, and terrain that spans mountains and beaches, attracts a huge number of road bikers and mountain bikers, so it is fitting that the Tour de California passes through Santa Cruz.  And for us at KB it is great that the race comes through the day after Mothers Day, we can relax and watch the race.

Robert and I both mountain bike and appreciate the training and determination these professional road racers must have.  So we are very excited and honored that Kitayama Brothers will provide flowers for this event. 

Stuart Kitayama

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kitayama Cup and Open House

Please join us for our annual open house featuring greenhouse tours, a farmer's market, wine tasting and the Kitayama Cup Floral Design Competition. Please check out our event web page for current info and contest guidelines.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mother's Day Harvest at KB

Here is a Mothers Day video update from Kitayama Bros.  We have come in with a big crop of lilies, gerberas, snaps, lisianthus etc for this holiday.  We were a little nervous about being able to sell it all but the market has been good.  Thank you to those who have ordered.   We still have some product so please call ASAP if you need to reserve anything still for this holiday. Happy selling..

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Robert Kitayama talks with Michael Miyashiro of Rainforest Plantes et Fleurs in Honolulu about Dianthus Artichoke, prom bouquets, and other inspirations.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oritz, Melendrez & Madrigal - 34 Years!

Congratulations to Kitayama Brothers employees Antonio Ortiz, Guadalupe Melendrez and Miguel Madrigal. They are the longest tenured KB employees. All three started in 1978 and are entering their 34th year with the company.

Antonio Ortiz ;  Guadalupe Melendrez
Miguel Madrigal

Friday, March 30, 2012

KB visits Golden State Bulb for the 2012 Pack Trials

Kitayama Bros. is just down the road from Golden State Bulb Company, one of the largest mini calla bulb producers in the USA.  We get our bulbs there and they have been good neighbors for a long time.  Click this link to see a 1 1/2 minute video of our visit..  Golden State Bulb Farm

Monday, March 26, 2012

KB Sponsors AIFD AIR Event

Continuing their dedication to education in the the floral industry, Kitayama Brothers is sponsoring the AIFD Artist in Residence program, which features a floral demonstration at City College of San Francisco on April 12th at 6:00. The designers are Katherine Zhang AIFD, Hiromi Nomura AIFD, Yoko I. Klingbiel AIFD, Kaori Imaizumi AIFD, and Susan Ishkanian AIFD. Click here to download a detailed flyer and a program cover.

Flyer for AIFD AIR Floral Design Lecture

Program/Notebook cover for AIFD  AIR Floral Demonstration

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ted Jonkeer visits Kitayama Brothers to consult about tulips

Ted Jonhkeer, JonhKeer Greenhouse and Carolyn Do,
Kitayama Bros. San Jose Manager
At the end of February, Ted Jonkheer from Jonkheer Greenhouse in Mt. Vernon, Washington came down to the Kitayama Brothers farm in Watsonville to give us advice on growing tulips.  One thing Kitayama Brothers respects is good flower growers. We know what it takes to produce beautiful flowers profitably and our hats go off to the good ones... and Ted is a good one.  Ted has been growing tulips, grape muscari, blooming branches and several other types of flowers for almost as long as we have.  We have been buying Ted’s beautiful tulips and blooming branches for years.  This year Ted decided not to plant tulips and we invited Ted to Watsonville to consult with us on a potential tulip program.

When B&H was leasing our KB East greenhouses they set up a tulip range next to a large set of coolers we have.  Now they are gone and we believe we have the perfect setup for a tulip program.  However, before we jumped with both feet into this crop, we decided we needed some unbiased eyes to give us their opinion.  Ted toured our facility and he believes we can do a successful tulip program.  Of course just like anything else new, we will have to learn a lot in a short amount of time.   We will have to learn about cooling, storing and timing the tulips.  Also there is the selection of the right colors and varieties, growing conditions, harvest, post harvest and then selling the tulips.

We are constantly looking at new flowers and opportunities for Kitayama Brothers to grow and right now I would give our tulip program more than a 50% chance of starting next January.  Stay tuned to find out about what happens with the tulips and other new crops we plan to grow.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Featured Flower: Eriostemon

Eriostemon (family Rutaceae)
This month marks the return of the popular cut green Eriostemon. It has a nice vase life and a pleasant citrus scent. It will be in season for about a month.

Update March 26th: The season for Eriostemon has passed. Hope you had an opportunity to enjoy them!

Kimiko Kitayama turns 90!

Kimiko and Robert Kitayama
This past weekend we celebrated my mothers 90th birthday.  At first she did not want a party, ”what’s the big deal about turning 90?”.  But it is a big deal and a lot of people wanted to share in her celebration.   As a little time passed she warmed up to the idea and soon we had the makings of a nice event.  The party was composed of mainly Fuji and Kitayama family members, many who had traveled across the country to attend.  One reason  so many family members attended is my mother is an amazing person and represents our “greatest generation,” the Nisei.  The Nisei are second generation Japanese Americans who were born in the USA just before WW II and famously were sent to Relocation Camps after Pearl Harbor even though they were American citizens.  The distinguishing feature of the Nisei were how they were able to prosper after WWII  without resources and facing a potentially hostile post WWII  America.    The Kitayamas left camp in Idaho and moved to Northern California and after 2 years of working for other flower growers were able to scrap together a little money to buy a piece of land in unincorporated Alameda County.   One of the first neighbors who welcomed and helped the Kitayamas were the Fuji family who had been growing carnations from before the war.  Kimiko was one of six Fuji siblings who knew the four Kitayama brothers.  My father Ray married Kiyome Kato and they had 4 children.  Kiyome sadly passed away in 1976 after battling cancer for several years.  Ray and Kimiko renewed their friendship after many years and were married in 1977.

Kimiko has been my mother now for 35 years.  Those years included; my graduating from high school and college, travel and “finding” myself, marriage, kids and career.  I needed support and guidance and received it from both my parents and the rest of my extended family.  Kitayama Brothers is about flowers and family.   Our success is our ability to work together as family.  We use the example of my parents and aunts and uncles that built our company  as the model for how the company should be run.  We also make sure our kids understand our history and a sense of responsibility to keep our legacy growing.

Thank you mom for who you are and how you inspire your family.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2011 Top 100 US Floral Industry Leaders

Earlier this week, someone sent me the “2011 Top 100 US Floral Industry Leaders,” created by William Armellini of  I emailed him to thank him for including the Kitayamas, and to tell him, “you are a brave man."   I agree that the names he included are leaders in the floral industry, but as is often the case with this type of list, it is the names that are not included which create all the controversy.  However, in William’s defense he did not state this was the “correct” list, but his own list.

William Armellini's Top 100 List
published at
I was told by my brother Scott of Greenleaf Wholesale before I met William, “you will like William, he is a black sheep just like you.”  And Scott was right, I do like William, and I think we are similar because we have opinions and we like to have a good time, even though is William is much better at it than I.  William will no doubt get some grief, but I appreciate his candor.  In William's spirit, there are a few names I would add.  My additions reflect the fact I am west-coast based and mainly work with growers, shippers and the wholesale side of the business:
  • Shimi Shibata: Mt Eden
  • Shinoda Family: San Lorenzo Nursery
  • Van Wingerden Family: Several Flower Companies
  • Mike Mellano: Mellano
  • Ben Haley Denver Wholesale
  • Ken Tagawa: Tagawa Bros. & Denver Wholesale
  • Leo Roosen: Washington Bulb
  • Suyeyasu Family: Suyeyasu Co.
Who would you add to the list? Let us know!

Monday, February 6, 2012

CC on Floral Trends

Good article on this year's flower trends by Carly Cylinder on Huffington Post. She predicts that many of the trends we saw last year, such as Modern Rustic, High Fashion Romance, Metallic, Unusual Bouquets and Patterns, will continue with new variations. Colors: Colbalt blue, raspberry, coral and emerald. Flowers: garden roses, Sage, Jasmine, Dahlias, Wheat, Sweet Peas and Queen Anne's Lace. Article includes a slideshow.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Valentine's Day Crop From KB Farms

In this video KB CEO/President Robert Kitayama tours the Kitayama processing floor and greenhouses as they prepare their Valentine's Day crop for distribution. See the freshly harvested lilies and Gerbera daisies, and flowers in the greenhouse that will be at their peak just in time for the holiday. Everyone on the KB staff thinks that this has been one of their best Valentine's Day harvests ever!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

KB Farms Greenhouse Tour

If you can't see the slideshow above, click here to see it on flickr.

These snapshots were taken during a tour of KB (Kitayama Brothers) Farms in Watsonville, situated on the Monterey Bay near Sunset Beach. If you click on the slideshow in full-screen mode, you will get the captions.